Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Betas Make you Better!!!

I'm not here today, so please, nobody feel obliged on any front. My office is moving and I have no computer access for the day...

But I just wanted to give a HUGE SHOUT of thanks to first round beta readers for Ill Omens:

Stacy Gail
Jill Haugh
Jade Jamison
Teresa Coltrin
Marissa Montano

You ladies ROCK!!!!!

(please enjoy this eye candy)

A cruise, with this for your captain...
And him below decks...
Stop at an island for a swim with him...
And then a sneak peak at MATT...

Seriously, accolades to all of you...

Every one of you caught things and called me out on pieces where no one else did, so THAT is fabulous (and evidence we ALL need multiple readers). And there were a couple (well ONE) biggie you ALL called me out on (what the hell was I thinking?) so THANK YOU!!!

And so friends who stop by here today... would you mind PLEASE giving a visit to one or more of my FABULOUS READERS to help express my gratitude?

And for the couple of 2nd round readers who have signed on... my goal is Friday to have input incorporated...

Monday, July 29, 2013

My Summer Vacation (and some oddball questions)

So you know how I'm always right on top of stuff? And got home three weeks ago... yeah, that.

I FINALLY stole my daughter's memory card and downloaded some pics from our vacation...

Here we have Thing 2 traipsing out onto a precipice in the Badlands... will you look at that?  Amazing, right?

Thing 1 in another direction
Pretty windy that day...

Then we went on to the Black Hills and drove through an animal safari thing...

Caribou, I believe...

napping grizzly...

Then we drove west into Wyoming which was initially unimpressive, but MAN, do I wish pictures could better capture Bighorn Pass... This tunnel is making my Endangered series (because when I blow up the tunnel nobody can get in and out of that part of Wyoming in the winter *cough*)

And finally YELLOWSTONE!!!

Lovely buffalo...
Burbling (stinky) geyser
I dub this 'the pretty one' (love that blue!)
And of course, Old Faithful.
There are pics missing--times the camera wasn't charged that I need to pull off the phone, but that's a good start.

And then there are these things...


I had a reader request (among a few other things) bookplates. Are these something the publisher normally GIVES authors? Just not mass paperback type authors? I'm not even sure what they ARE... Has anyone every just GOTTEN them for promo? Has anyone had them made? Worth the expense? Is this a common request?

Kindle Direct Publishing Select

So y'all know I'm self publishing in serial, yeah? And my PLAN is to publish serially, but then bundle and have them also available as what will effectively be a trilogy of normal-length books...

So there is this formatting thing to learn, and all the sales venues want different stuff... so I am TOYING with doing the initial release ONLY on Kindle, whereby for 90 days there is only them... allows me to have that first free for a total of 5 days (which I will do as I release each of the others) and then by the time I have 4 out and am ready for that first bundle, I can pull it OFF the select and learn all the other formatting..

But I'm not sure. I don't want to exclude Nook, iBook, or other readers... And I think Kobo allows me to PERMANENTLY have that first one free (which is what I'd like—Amazon price matches, so it would be free there, too)

What do you guys think? Worth learning all the extra stuff to keep the extra control? Or is that KDPS enough easier that I should go for it?

Friday, July 26, 2013

Pinch Me

Yes, I attended one (well two) of these...
This is where life gets surreal... where a tart becomes a mom of a COLLEGE student, even while believing she is barely out of college herself and remembering such freshman shenanigans as stealing the pallets we used to prop out twin beds in the air (thereby increasing floor space drastically), to Crisco Twister in the hallway, to the midguided Everclear Party... I refuse to name names (except when I periodically blackmail my friend Joann—the worldly Portland gal across the hall, who, it turns out may have been more cultured, but not more experienced, than yours truly... only so much to do in a small town, after all) in hope that nobody names me. Ah yes... these skeletons are STILL dancing. I love them, in fact. But Do I really want my daughter creating her own?

I've written the check... she is registered... I went to orientation last night. She is going to a community college for two years and so living at home. In a way this is SUPER nice. It is a lot cheaper and I think community colleges do a much better job of teaching kids to be college students. Four-year schools it is more a 'dive in and sink or swim' deal. And my daughter could use the floaties at first. She is more artistic than academic.

Wait... Is this Phi-Psi's?
That said, when I think about those dorm years especially, but my sorority years too... I loved the group living. And I loved what leaving home did for me being able to 'create myself from scratch'--the contrast of high school me to college me is very parallel to real life me versus Tart Me. In a new place you can try on things and be a little outrageous in a way that old (or professional) environments don't really allow. I want my daughter to GET that fresh start. Not that she NEEDS it—her self here is fabulous. But I think it is liberating to do—I think we learn something about ourselves when we venture out.

In more violent Surreal News

Weird stuff in Ann Arbor. Know how I live in a place with the safety of the 50s, culture of the 70s and lifestyle of the present? Well reality has struck this week, and too close to home. A 25 year old medical student who lived a BLOCK from my office... like RIGHT THERE, was found dead in his apartment “under suspicious circumstances.”

Maybe it is the murder writer in me, but doesn't that mean they suspect homicide? I mean if it were a drug overdose (something POSSIBLE for a medical student because they DO have some access) they'd just SAY that—looks like an overdose... right? But they aren't releasing information. It's sad. Clearly he was bright. I'm sure he had a promising future. AND FOR PETE'S SAKE THIS IS ANN ARBOR! Homicides aren't supposed to happen here....nearly never do.

And then closer to HOME... Armed bank robbery 4 blocks from my house. Holy crap! Did somebody forget to tell us that when Detroit declared bankruptcy, they also decided to migrate west?

And then the Physical Part

My boss has this great new job... which means I have this great new job (same pay, twice the responsibility—all that—but seriously, I love the WORK we will be doing)--but what that MEANS is we will be moving office soon. And so I've spent the better part of this week sorting what needs to be shredded, ordinary recycled, and packed... lugging boxes of paper. Every day this week I've FILLED a 'confidential' bin (the shredding) that is 4' X 2.5' X 2.5' FULL of paper. EVERY. DAY. In fact on Wednesday my boss came in and made her niece steal a second bin from down the hall and we filled that, too. [note: my boss is not a thief so much as a diva... a FABULOUS diva... but when she wants something, she wants it NOW]

Bonus for reading to the end...

FRUITFLY DEATH... we are having a bad fruitfly year and my buddy Jackie told me this... mix apple cider vinegar with dish soap... put it in tiny bowls... fruitflies can't resist... It TOTALLY works. I put 3 in various places in our house and have killed like 47,000 fruitflies.

Reality hitting anybody else where it hurts?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Cure for Cancer

Or killer, rather... but since cancer kills people, we want it dead, yeah?

So I know I'm not usually a utility model, but sometimes I learn stuff, and I really oughta share it...

Did you know we all have cancer in us, almost all the time? That the reason we get cancer bad enough to die from it is because our bodies lose (fail to get) what they need to fight it?

I saw a video last week that had a LITTLE of it debunked by a chemist friend of mine, but the gist of it is good.

1)  Don't smoke. (Duh) Wish a couple of my family members grasped this simple concept.

2) Avoid chemicals. This is broad and spreads through tons of domains from fish with mercury to processed foods with ingredients you can't pronounce. It also means organic vegetables and washing well because pesticides are (catch this)--CHEMICAL. Hormones are chemical. All that stuff intended to make food processors richer and food cheaper? Yeah, that's mostly chemical.

But I'm guessing that isn't new.

What was new to me was this:


Did you know cancer cells are so pernicious because they don't die natural cell death? So they grow tumors instead and take over. IODINE is what kills cancer cells. Pretty much the only thing. Cancer killers (chemotherapy and radiation) kill it ONCE but teach those damn cancer cells to fight back, so if it comes back, you're screwed... (or such is my exaggeration that isn't so far from truth. Disclaimer: I am NOT a doctor, but I believe this)

Did you know ALSO that 97% of people are iodine deficient? No WONDER with all our medical progress, cancer deaths have NOT changed rates in a century.

Salt is fortified with iodine. But how much table salt do you eat in a day? How much CAN you? A dash? Whatever trickle comes through in your baking? My guess is not much and that's good because normal table salt just isn't all that great for you.

Iodine USED to be in BREAD but in the 70s they changed that for Bromine which is cheaper. And big surprise. Does NOT kill cancer cells. My chemist friend Steve assures me bromine doesn't take over Iodine receptors as the video I saw suggested (what goes in bread is BO3, not BO, so not capable of attaching to the same cells), but it remains that for a few decades we could count on bread subsidizing our iodine intake and now we can't, so we need to make a point of it (IT, being getting enough iodine).


1)  Sea salt. This doesn't have the same harmful effects (on blood pressure and so on) as table salt and we should try to get a teaspoon a day of it.
2) Sea vegetables (kelp comes to mind, but there are dozens)
3) organic cranberries
4) organic strawberries
5) organic yogurt
6) orange versions from the potato family (skin on)
7) organic navy beans

So there are some things to add to your diet. Unlike the chemical iodone, these won't get you to toxic levels, but they will help you fight cancer.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Cover Lovin' and Progress

Writing News

First I just need to tell you what a wild trip this is. Anybody who has never contemplated a serial really should think about it. Maybe it is because it reminds me a little of my fan fiction writing days, where I posted regularly to meet the demand of my readers. It was fast paced and pushed me to keep at it.

And while my books haven't been actually PUBLISHED yet on this, I have a schedule that will definitely keep me cranking. Got my first case of feedback on Friday—at least one person thinks I am 90% on track—there was a character in need of a bit more dimension, but one of five PoV characters isn't a bad record. I can do it!

I finished the first draft of book two yesterday, so will spend the week trying to knock THAT into shape while I also hammer out what it is I want to include in Book 3.

So the NEWS is this:

First four books, all titled:

Ill Omens  (with first readers)
In Short Supply (currently editing--the pre-reader version)
So This is War (currently plotting and a wee bit of writing)
Fight or Flight

These four make a 'set' if you will that is the equivalent to the first in a trilogy, except that each also has a sub-story/theme that gets mostly tied up so the reader can move to the next theme.

NEXT (this is where we all get to squee a bit)

I have my 2nd cover!!!!!

My cover designer is my buddy Joris—I know you've all heard me talk about him. He's very talented, has worked with me on each of these—I generally have SOME idea for the broad idea... I think on the SET one, the SHOT was me and Joris added that very cool country below with the people falling off the United States.

The first for the serial, I requested a dead seagull—it is representative of the 'omens' if you will, and is what the reader gets the very first chapter.

And now you can see the second... that poor sad tomato plant with the fruit just dying on the vine... don't you wonder why? Huh? Don't ya?

So if you need a cover done, you definitely want to head over and look at his portfolio.

And he blogged yesterday about how he went about all these!

And while we're at it... I started a Facebook Author page this week for me as Hart Johnson... if any of you are at Facebook...

Please like me!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

One Thing At A Time

As I struggle to re-acclimate at work, it ha occurred to me it isn't going to happen. I learned this in grad school 20 years ago and I'm not sure why I can't remember it. When my person spends a 'full time job worth' engaged in a high brain activity, the REST of the day needs to be brainless.

And right now I AM WRITING BOOKS!!!  At a frantic pace, mind you. And I'm making good progress.

Ill Omens is with first readers and I have 9 of probably 12 chapters written of Short Supply--the 2nd, though I will need to edit it by July 29 to get THAT to first readers.

SPEAKING of first readers... It is my opinion and nature that in a marathon, some people might poop out, so I was thinking I maybe needed SEVERAL early readers early on.  HOPEFULLY I can hook all of them, but life happen anallat.  So if ANYBODY is interested in jumping on as an early reader--giving feedback on these as I go, I'd be forever grateful. My only request is  2 week turnaround time.

Email me, if you are interested:

Any of the rest of you struggle with day job/writing brain wars?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Time Wibble Wobble

So know how I was gone for a few weeks? In that time, the cafeteria in my building changed management. I knew it was happening. It wasn’t GOOD news when I heard, but for my one bagel a week, one serving of milk (for my Joe’s Os in the morning)… maybe twice through the salad bar to supplement the boring lettuce and dressing I bring from home… I mean how big a deal is it when I spend less than five bucks a week there?

The one cashier thought the new people would hire her… The cook I knew, too…

It’s all good. Aramark screwed up and we are getting new management. But there were no terrible repercussions for anybody I knew...

So I get back and it is like somebody has gone back in time and tweaked this LITTLE thing… and it has had all these ripple effects that in SMALL ways makes the whole scene just slightly OFF.

Poor sad cashier...
The shirts were gray instead of blue.

The cashier had glasses instead of contacts (and more importantly, seems very down, when she’s always been cheerful)

The bagels migrated to a new place.

The silverware moved and the condiment tower with 6ish choices is now just a ketchup and a mustard squirter.

And the prices have gone UP… my bagel with cream cheese used to be $1.16. Now it’s $1.40. That’s 20%, gringos. I mean $1.40 won’t break me. $.32 more a week won’t… though the milk is seven cents more, too, which has scared me, so I haven’t even tested the salad bar prices.

Changing history for the better, doesn't
It is just all a little OFF.

And that really was exactly what it reminded me of—the Pendragon books where Pendragon has gone back and saved the Hindenburg and comes back to the present and it's really nearly unnoticeably different (well, other than those hell dogs, but never mind)... but this new technology that SEEMS very cool at first is turning out to be very dangerous… you with me?

So now I’m afraid of the cafeteria.

Any of you ever experience that? Something that made you feel like you were in a Sci-Fi story?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Why Do I Do This?

So remember how I said I was going to release A Shot in the Light serially? I proceeded to make myself a CALENDAR and some DEADLINES... and I started to research everything I need to do.

Man, this is HUGE!

But I will do it.

My first deadline is TODAY. I need to have the first book first draft READY. And by first draft, this is not really typical... this is the first draft of the BIGGER thing, but the original thing had a first draft last summer. So SOME chapters, this is a first draft... for 7 of 12 chapters, this is NEW (as of the road trip). For 2, I have changed PoV and added some, but taken from the original. And for three, I have just changed from first to third person.

It's invigorating to do.

The overwhelming part was looking into the TOTAL timeline. Because not only do I need to plot MY deadlines, I needed to build in appropriate time for the myriad fantasticos who are helping me. First readers, second readers, and my editor.

So each book has not ONE but SIX deadlines I marked on a calendar, and SOMETIMES, one deadline for one book is the same as a different deadline for a different book... BUT when I broke it into 4 calendars for the different tasks, it isn't quite so much to think about. Everyone but ME really only needs to be on top of their own tasks, after all.


That just needed to be said. Because the OTHER thing I did last week was immerse myself in her very helpful and amazingly organized list of blogs to help self-publishers. Man, she has laid it ALL out there. I am currently in AWE. Though I still feel overwhelmed, I ALSO feel like I have a very good set of guidelines there. Anybody considering self-publishing should GO HERE and you can learn everything you need to know.

I spent MUCH of the day Friday there and I'm only through about half of what I am trying to learn.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Wait... Now How Do I Blog Again?

Halo, fine friends!!! Back from a three week break—the first of that length in my four years of blogging. And I've realized I don't feel like I know what I'm doing anymore. Erm... not that I claim to have ever had full competence...

My trip was GREAT and I will have pictures to share...
I had some experiences, and I have some wisdom to share (stop laughing)...

And I have rejuvenated a project like you would not believe and I am UBER excited about it. So maybe THAT is where I'll start.

A Shot in the Light was mostly written last summer—two months of PACKED writing and my final count was some 127,000 words.

So Ima make it longer...


You think I'm kidding? Lemme e'splain... no. Is too much. Lemme sum up...

See, I had a young freelance reporter from Portland, Oregon (Sidney Knight) whose brother works at the CDC... She notices all these dead birds when she is at the beach trying to get a few projects done (Ew, right?) and calls him...

He warns her not to get a flu shot... she gets HOME and realizes this flu thing is much worse than she thought... within days she's lost a friend and lost contact with her brother so she decides she needs to go to Atlanta to figure out what's what...

THAT was the original story...

Working Title is Ill Omens, details in progress
Now I am ADDING:

*  Her nurse friend who flees to avoid the (work required)  flu shot
*  A public health PhD student who is planning the Zombie Apocalypse (seriously... well, sort of)
*  A mercenary who suddenly finds all his buddies are dead...
*  And a senator's daughter/law student who hears some things that make her really uncomfortable.

All these people are 20-somethings... Some of them will have sex. *cough* (is that TMI?) Is it better or worse if I disclose whether it is with each other or not?  These things are so confusing!

Does this make it new adult? I don't know the answer to that... not worrying about it. They are interesting young professionals, mostly... I will call it good.

What I DO know, and what I am SUPER excited about is this serial release thing.

To my original first three chapters I've added seven (and will tease out an 8th—pulling from Sidney, my original MC and giving some of the meat to Sarah, my nurse--for balance mostly--there is an important scene they are both in)--what WAS 46 pages is now 100ish.

I know Susan Kaye Quinn, who I've admitted to stalking, likes each to have a conclusion, and I WILL... but maybe not as solid a conclusion as she does. I am really doing these in the spirit of serials... there is a conclusion--or rather a large theme tied up--but there is ALSO a 'the story continues'. And most of my PoVs will continue into each next segment... except when people die... erm... It IS an epidemic! And WAR!

So do you want to know my PLAN? *BUWAHAHAHAHAHAHA*

Come on. You have to cackle with me if you want to know...


I need to do a couple things this summer:

1) OUTLINE to the end... you know I can't abide pants... But seriously. If I am going to start publishing this, I need to know it is really manageable and I am not going to end up written into a corner. What I mean by outlining is a sentence or two about what each section that the ENTIRE FREAKING THING will have.

2) Have a clean draft of the first six sections written by the end of August. My feedback loop requires I work this far ahead.

3) Through book three peer reviewed and formally edited. (I am actually going to finally PAY Leanne for copy editing and Joris for covers!!! Both have been amazing all this time, helping me for free, but I am going to be asking them to drop everything and help out, and both deserve to finally get the professional recognition they deserve.)

4) I will work up a formal calendar with all my deadlines, as I dig that stuff.

5) I will get an author profile up at Facebook and Goodreads

6) I will do a crash course in self-published formatting and stuff (and stuff to include all the STUFF I need to know--any experts in stuff, give a shout, I need you)

7) I will push PUBLISH for the first of these the first week in September—isn't there a day of the week for new releases? THAT day...

8) The first FOUR will be two weeks apart.

9) The pacing of the rest will be either a month gap, then two weeks apart for three more, month off, two weeks apart (you see what I'm getting at) or three weeks for all...I sort of like the 3X2 with a month break but I can't really explain it to you logically expect I plan to make PoD available for these in a clustered way (first 4, then 3 at a time) and at least for HALF there are thematic splits at these breaks. I am not in enough detail yet in the second half to know if that is still true.

I also need to look at Christmas and stuff... see what paces best if it is 10, they could ALL be ready by then and I could sett sets, but I have my doubts 10 is enough.

I really want to be done at least a month before the release of Keeping Mum so I can concentrate on that in February. I'm not sure right now whether I want 10 total or 13... I'd like ONE freebie, then clusters of three, but I get that it may not work out that way. THIS is part of what the outlining is about.

It's been a while since I was this jacked up about revising... Maybe because part of this process is writing. And MAYBE, just MAYBE part of it is that I wrote all those extra chapters longhand in the car... I need to get my notebook back to the bathtub... I was typing last night and made myself CRY when I'd WRITTEN the bloody thing I was typing. It should NOT have been new information, but it was a heartstring-tugger.

Gratuitous llama kiss because that's how I roll
So now that I am back, I am going to make a better effort as a blog READER... I try to get to people who comment first... and it seems like for AGES that is all I've managed (and that not well)... But work is picking up the pace (on top of having been gone 2.5 weeks)... hopefully it really will be better. Kick me if you feel neglected. I totally don't mean to do that. If you comment, I swear I mean to get to you within the week...

HEY: Question for you savvy folks... especially self-publishers: Are you incorporated? Or have you formed a separate entity for your writing endeavors? That is something I'm considering. I'm thinking if I plan to pay people, it will make this all smoother. Can someone give me a primer on the advantages? Or point to a blog that does it for them?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Find a Mentor!!!

Halo fine friends! I’m on the road and not blogging, but I HAVE been revising… big revising… and hit a theme that I thought addressed the Insecure Writer’s Theme well, and so I thought I’d share and hit that first Wednesday with it.

First: don’t forget to visit all the OTHER insecure writers!!!

So know how this writing stuff is HARD? And you just think you master one task and suddenly there is another giant task in front of you? You write the book, then you need to edit the book, then you need to write a query or a synopsis or a book blurb or cover copy or you need to market yourself… There is ALWAYS SOMETHING!!!

Well I’ve found the KEY!!! There is always a selection of people who have ALREADY done what you want to do next!!! And you can follow them around and emulate them and learn from them and it makes it SO MUCH EASIER! Which is not to say easy, but there is a sort of manual, if you will.

Right now I am editing what was written as a BOOK (A Shot in the Light), but I’ve decided to release it SERIALLY. So I am following Susan Kaye Quinn around shamelessly, and reading both her Debt Collector series and Hugh Howey’s Wool series.

So whatever you are doing, find someone you think is doing it right, and settle down to learn from the pro! I think that is the beauty of writing… people WANT to help others. It is one of the few fields where the more great books there are, the more readers there will be, so it helps us ALL to help each other out and in every case I’ve encountered, people love being told you admire what they are doing, so are HAPPY to help out!